WASHINGTON — It’s a mix of fun and competition out on the Southwest Waterfront. The bright, sunny sky and relatively low humidity made for a perfect day to be out on the water.
Dragon boats have taken over the Washington Channel as they take part in the second annual Capital Dragon Boat Regatta.
“Dragon boat racing is the fastest growing sport, believe it or not, in the world right now,” event organizer Jeffrey Kuhn told WTOP.
And with all of that interest, the event was started in the National Harbor and then moved to The Wharf last year.
Luis Beteta of Maryland has played football, lacrosse and even done some wrestling, but dragon boat racing is what has gotten the most of his attention.
“The thing I like about dragon boat racing is that it’s a team sport,” Beteta says. He added that no matter how strong the strongest member of the team is, it is only as good as its weakest rower.
To get better often involves practice. The Baltimore Dragon Boat Club also took part in the regatta, but its team mostly was filled by rookies.
“We’re a very competitive team,” team coach Sean Scott says. “But, we always work on the team spirit and the loyalty to each other first.”
Scott considered the Capital Dragon Boat Regatta to be one of the team’s less competitive events. That, along with the event’s proximity to Baltimore, made it an easy decision for the team to get involved.
Team work and the event’s camaraderie also got Philadelphia native Rosemary Murphy involved.
“I’ve been involved with dragon boating for ten years,” Murphy says. “I really wanted to do a workout that I would be motivated to continue with.”
She is the team coach for New Jersey-based River Sisters, a team of breast cancer survivors. This weekend, their sister group, the River Sirens, are hitting the water. But there were two other teams of breast cancer survivors taking part.
“The sport has just grown, especially among breast cancer survivors around the world,” GoPinkDC President Kathy Taber says.
She says that many breast cancer survivors got their start in dragon boating as part of an experiment to see if exercise made lymphedema, a condition that often develops in breast cancer patients, worse. It didn’t.
Now, there are often several teams at each dragon boat event that entirely, or partially, feature breast cancer survivors.